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Post date: August 6 2008

Attorney General Cuomo Obtains Guilty Plea From Former State Education Employee Who Stole Historic Documents From Nys Archives

ALBANY, N.Y. (August 6, 2008) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that a former New York State Department of Education employee pleaded guilty to stealing more than $50,000 worth of historic documents and artifacts from the New York State Library and Archives.

As a result of the Attorney General's investigation, more than 1,600 items that were stolen from New York state have been recovered.

"The state archives are property of New Yorkers and they document the history of our great state," said Attorney General Cuomo. "The stealing of these documents is akin to stealing from taxpayers. That a state employee would abuse his position in order to steal these documents is reprehensible. My office will assist in restoring the recovered items to their rightful place in the archives."

Daniel D. Lorello, 54, of Van Leuven Dr. in Rensselaer, pleaded guilty today before Albany County Court Judge Thomas Breslin to grand larceny in the second degree (class C felony) for stealing more than $50,000 worth of artifacts from New York state between January 1, 1997 and January 24, 2008.

Lorello will be sentenced to 2- to 6-years in prison on October 1, 2008. He must also pay $73,000 in restitution to people who unknowingly bought stolen property and then returned it, plus a $56,000 confession of judgment to the Department of Education. Additionally, Lorello must forfeit all items seized as well as his private book collection.

Lorello, who until his arrest in January 2008, had been an Archives and Records Management Specialist 3 with the Office of Cultural Education in the Department of Education.

He used his position to steal historic documents and artifacts belonging to the State Library - selling some for personal profit on eBay and trading others at collectors' shows. Lorello has since been terminated from his position at the Department of Education.

The New York State Library, which is part of the Office of Cultural Education, contains more than 20 million books, documents, maps, newspapers and other resources explaining the history and culture of the state. Treasures in the Library's collection include: a complete set of autographs of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, manuscripts from the original draft of George Washington's farewell address, an original first draft of Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation and a wide collection of books and memorabilia regarding Theodore Roosevelt.

A Good Samaritan from Virginia, Joseph Romito, alerted state authorities to a pending sale of an item Lorello posted on eBay, and which he believed belonged to the State Library. The item was a 4-page letter to a New York General by John C. Calhoun from 1823. Calhoun was the seventh Vice President of the United States under John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson, and was an avid secessionist.

Lorello also posted other documents for sale on eBay including a "Currier & Ives lithograph that depicts 'View From Fort Putnam, West Point Hudson River, N.Y.'" Other historic documents that were stolen by Lorello included Davy Crocket Almanacs and a Winfield Scott Hancock Calling Card.

As a result of this investigation and with the cooperation of Lorello, eBay, and individuals who purchased items from Lorello, the Attorney General's Office has thus far recovered more than 1,600 historic items that were stolen from New York state.

Attorney General Cuomo thanked Joseph Romito for his alertness and fast action, and thanked State Education Commissioner Richard P. Mills and staff at the State Library and Department of Education for their assistance in the case. The Attorney General's Office also appreciates eBay's cooperation in the matter.

"Access to the historical collections of the nation is a fundamental right in our democracy," said Commissioner Mills. "The State Education Department and the Board of Regents are committed to state-of-the-art protection for the historical collections in our care that belong to all of the people of New York State. In the aftermath of these thefts, the State Library and Archives have used one of the premier security consulting firms in the country with the intent to bring collections security in these institutions to world class standards."

The case is being prosecuted by Deputy Chief of the Attorney General's Criminal Prosecution Bureau Richard Ernst. The investigation was led by Senior Investigator Casey Quinlan and Assistant Chief Investigator David Adams of the Attorney General's Office.